Plantar fasciitis is an irritation of the thick tissue, known as the plantar fascia, located on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that runs from the heel bone to the toes and supports the natural arch of the foot.
Whenever the foot bears weight, the plantar fascia naturally tightens, but if overstretched or overused, walking becomes very painful.
Plantar fasciitis, a condition that can affect one or both feet simultaneously, is caused when the plantar fascia tendon endures repetitive stress or excessive tension that creates small tears in the tendon, resulting in inflammation.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis:
- Sharp pain and sensitivity in the heel of the foot
- Heel pain that develops gradually
- Sensitivity that is most painful in the morning
Plantar fasciitis can be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatory medications or the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method. You may also be given a prescription for orthotics, splints, or physical therapy. One effective method for pain relief involves stretching the calf and plantar fascia:
- Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with one foot planted closer to the wall and one foot planted behind you. Keep the knee furthest from the wall straight and keep the heel furthest from the wall on the ground. Slowly bend forward with the leg closest to the wall, placing your hands on the wall to hold your balance. You should feel a strong pull in your calf muscle during this stretch. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and relax. Repeat 20 times.
- Plantar fascia stretch: While seated, lift the leg of the foot with plantar fasciitis, grabbing the toes and slowly pulling them backward or towards you. If you have problems reaching your foot, you can use a towel wrapped around your toes to pull them towards you. You should feel a strong pull of the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and relax. Repeat 20 times.
If the pain does not subside after conservative treatment methods are exhausted, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release, a surgical procedure that relieves tension in the plantar fascia.
To learn more about plantar fasciitis and the available treatment options, request an appointment online or call (605) 415-4054 to schedule a consultation with Black Hills Orthopedic & Spine Center specialty-trained foot doctors.